HC Deb 20 March 1939 vol 345 cc882-4
4. Mr. Cocks

asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government have obtained particulars of the State law in regard to political responsibilities promulgated by General Franco's Government on 13th February; and what action he now proposes to take to secure humane treatment of prisoners, seeing that under that law it is a punishable offence to have taken any public part in the elections of February, 1936, except on behalf of the Right, to have opposed the national movement since 18th July, 1936, or to have had any connection with trade unions or political parties supporting the Republican régime?

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Butler)

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Garro Jones) on 9th March, to which I have as yet nothing to add.

Mr. Cocks

When does the Undersecretary expect to get the information?

Mr. Butler

I hope soon and I will inform the hon. Member when we do.

Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft

Is it not a fact that the 2,500,000 citizens who remain in Catalonia are well satisfied with the justice of the treatment served out?

6. Mr. Vyvyan Adams

asked the Prime Minister whether he has any further statement to make about the condition of the refugee camp at Perpignan?

18. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Prime Minister the amount of the grant made by the Government to the British Red Cross Society to aid them in their work for Spanish refugees on the French frontier; and whether the Red Cross Society is working in co-operation with the French Government in the matter?

Mr. Butler

His Majesty's Government are contributing £50,000 to the British Red Cross Society for the relief of the Spanish refugees interned in the camps in South-Eastern France, and Major-General Sir John Kennedy and Major- General F. C. Fitzgerald, who are supervising this work in close co-operation with the French authorities, are now at Perpignan, where the distribution of material has already begun. I understand that there are definite improvements both in feeding and hospital conditions in the camps.

19. Miss Rathbone

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the British steamship "Stangate" was captured outside Valencia on Thursday; and what steps have been taken to secure the release of the ship?

Mr. Butier

I understand that this ship was arrested by a unit of the Spanish fleet within territorial waters in the vicinity of Valencia, and it was subsequently ascertained by the British naval authorities that this arrest had been effected within the three-mile limit. The ship was conducted to Palma by the Spanish naval authorities, where she arrived on the morning of 17th March. The ship had entered Spanish territorial waters in disregard of a notice issued by the Spanish Government prohibiting shipping from doing so. His Majesty's Government do not propose to object in cases where the Spanish Government, after prohibiting the entry of ships into certain portions of its territory, prevent, by appropriate measures taken in territorial waters, the entry of ships into the closed ports.

Miss Rathbone

Does not this attitude mean the recognition of blockade by General Franco and, therefore, the recognition of belligerent rights; and would the right hon. Gentleman further tell us about the safety of those on the ship, and has he any information that that is assured?

Mr. Butler

The position with regard to territorial waters was made quite clear by my Noble Friend the other day, and has been stated by me to the House. With regard to the last part of the question, we have sent a message to our representative at Palma asking him to do all he can to look after the safety and interests of the crew.

Mr. Benn

Does the right hon. Gentleman remember what happened to the "Stangrove," when she was left for 14 days on the rocks and the captain died?

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

Can my right hon. Friend state the name of the owners of this ship?

Mr. Butler

I think, Messrs. Billmeir.

20. Miss Rathbone

asked the Prime Minister on how many occasions and at what cost to the British Treasury were refugees in sympathy with the insurgent forces removed from Spanish ports in British warships during the first two years of the Spanish war; and in how many of these cases was the consent asked for or obtained from the then recognised Spanish Government?

Mr. Butler

No statistics are available to show on how many occasions refugees were removed from Spanish ports, nor the cost of such evacuation to His Majesty's Government, These evacuations were carried out with the consent of the then Spanish Government.

Miss Rathbone

Are we to understand that that condition was always carried out by the Spanish Government?

Mr. Butler

I understand that to be the case.

Mr. W. Roberts

Can the right hon. Gentleman say why, if that is the case, the Republican Government were so much more reasonable in connection with this than General Franco's Government?